The Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and Pope Francis both made powerful statements today about the war in Ukraine.
No one can afford to be silent in the face of the bloodshed happening in Ukraine, the leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, said in a video message on Saturday.
The major archbishop is based in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, where, he said on Feb. 26, the sun has risen after another difficult night.
“It rises above the Ukrainian Kyiv, Kyiv that wins. Above the city of Kyiv that has passed another night, difficult but blessed by God,” Shevchuk said, according to the Secretariat of the Major Archbishop in Rome.
In his message, Shevchuk thanked all those who have been speaking up in support of Ukraine after Russia launched a full-scale attack on the country on the morning of Feb. 24.
“In these minutes, when blood is shed on the Ukrainian land, when Patriarch Josyf’s words of ‘mountains of corpses and rivers of blood’ are repeated, in all our cities, along all the banks of our beautiful Dnipro River — from the Belarusian border through Kyiv and all the way to the Black Sea — no one has the right to stay silent,” he stated.
“Because speech can save lives,” he added. “While silence can kill.”
“Today I ask everyone who will listen to us, everyone who will hear our voice from our bleeding Kyiv: fight for peace, protect those who need your help, let us do everything so that the aggressor stops and withdraws from Ukrainian land. Whoever you are: heads of states or parliaments, politicians, military, church leaders, do your part, speak out in support of Ukraine,” he said.
Saturday marked the third day of fighting in Ukraine, where the death toll among both military and civilians continues to rise. Swaths of Ukrainians are fleeing from the eastern part of the country to the west, or to neighboring Poland. People in the cities of Kyiv and Lviv have been forced to seek safety in shelters or subway stations.
The text of the pope’s remarks at the Angelus:
In recent days we have been shaken by something tragic: war. Time and again we have prayed that this road would not be taken. And let us not stop talking; indeed, let us pray to God more intensely. For this reason, I renew to all the invitation to make 2 March, Ash Wednesday, a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine. A day to be close to the sufferings of the Ukrainian people, to feel that we are all brothers and sisters, and to implore of God the end of the war.
Those who wage war forget humanity. They do not start from the people, they do not look at the real life of people, but place partisan interests and power before all else. They trust in the diabolical and perverse logic of weapons, which is the furthest from the logic of God. And they distance themselves from ordinary people, who want peace, and who – the ordinary people – are the real victims in every conflict, who pay for the follies of war with their own skin. I think of the elderly, of those who seek refuge in these times, of mothers fleeing with their children… They are brothers and sisters for whom it is urgent to open humanitarian corridors, and who must be welcomed. With a heart broken by what is happening in Ukraine – and let us not forget the wars in other parts of the world, such as Yemen, Syria, Ethiopia… – I repeat: put down your weapons! God is with the peacemakers, not with those who use violence. Because those who love peace, as the Italian Constitution states, “reject war as an instrument of aggression against the freedom of other peoples and as a means for the settlement of international disputes.”